I had some friends over last evening for a small wine tasting.
The broad theme was Spanish wines. I have long been a fan of Riojas, so I included a couple of them. Along with the wine, I had a selection of cheeses. The list included Manchego, Garrotxa (a wonderful goat cheese from the Catalan region of Spain), aged Gouda (it is aged about two years and combines great flavors of sweet, salty, and creamy), Cabot Cheddar, and some Red Cow Parmesan. On the cracker side, in addition to Carrs, I found some nut/grain crackers (the box is in the trash, I will get the name next time). They were made in Canada and I chose two varieties, one was an olive and fig combo, the other was a salted almonds and dates. The latter was my favorite. Of course, we also had a large supply of grapes at the table as well.
All of the wines were decanted for several hours with the exception of the Celeste Crianza, which a guest brought.
The first wine up was Bodegas Campillo Rioja Reserva Selecta 2001. This wine is 100% Tempranillo, aged 22 months in French and Oak casks. I had it with a fish dinner a few weeks ago and it paired wonderfully. I thought it would be a good lead-off candidate, but was mistaken. It really needs some food to help it along. The nose was a bit earthy with some red fruit. The taste was very good with highlights of red and black fruit and a bit of vanilla. The finish was extremely short. One guest accurately described it as “falling off a cliff”. The short finish brought with it an acidic bite, which took down the great fruit flavors previously enjoyed. It was not a bad wine, but not great either. It falls into the “okay” category. You can pick this up for about $30.
Our next selection was Marques de Caceres Gran Reserva 2004. This wine us 85% Tempranillo and 15% Graciano & Garnacha Tinta. It is aged in French oak for 26-28 months and then another 4 years in the bottle. I have been drinking this wine for many years. It is a reliable and consistent name. They also make a reserve and a non-reserve (both are worth a try), but the gran reserva is my favorite selection. The aroma carried strong violets. The palate gets red fruit and oak. The finish was a nice medium length with a strong bit of pepper. This was a nice improvement over the Campillo. Price tag for this is about $35.
The next wine sampled was O. Fournier Tinta del Pais 2004 This wine is 100% Tinta del Pais and is harvested in the city of Burgos in Spain. It is barrel aged 18 months in oak (80% French and 20% American). The wine carries 14.5% ABV. This is one of the best made wines I have ever tasted. It is perfectly balanced. The nose had an awesome floral and vanilla notes. The palate was a well-meshed combination of flavors, including spice, red fruit, black fruit, and plum. The high alcohol did not come through on the nose or the palate, wonderfully blended. Ultra smooth tannins. The finish was fantastic, long and full of pepper and leather. This wine was, by far, everyone’s favorite of the evening. It is a bit pricey in the $60-75 range, but you will not be disappointed. This wine will be good for at another 10 years.
We then veered away from Spain and arrived in Chile with Vina Montes Purple Angel 2009. Purple Angel is 92% Carmenere and 8% Petit Verdot. The wine is aged in French oak for 18 months and carries 15% ABV. I was unsure how we would fare with Purple Angel, after hitting the high note with Fournier. Purple Angel actually stood up very well. Angel has strong floral notes on the nose. Unlike the Fournier, the high alcohol in Angel was very present, both on the nose and on the palate. Blended with the alcohol, bright red berries come through on the palate. The tannins were a bit strong. For a 2009, this wine is drinking quite nicely. I see it improving over the next several years. It retails for about $50.
Finally, we popped and poured a 2007 Miguel Torres Ribera del Duero Celeste Crianza. Little documentation is available from the producer. It is a Tempranillo. After the success of Purple Angel, and the high point of Fournier, I was dubious as to how the evening would close. Celeste came through in fine Spanish tradition. Oak was prominent on the nose. Black fruit and vanilla on the palate. An enjoyable, mild finish. I would put this ahead of the Campillo, but below the rest of the evening’s tastings. It costs in the $21 range.
Several hours of fantastic wine, tasty cheese, and great conversation came to a close.
Until the next time,